Realist theories of great power politics and power transitions argue that power transitions cause war and that the rise of China will lead to heightened U.S.-China conflict and the likelihood of hostilities. Yet such power transition theories are fundamentally flawed. First, they are based on European diplomatic history. But the European theater may be the worst theater in the world to develop theories of great power politics. Second, power transition theories ignore the many strategic factors that influence great power politics, including the impact of changing military technologies and a region’s great power structure. Third, these theories suggest a highly mechanical understanding of the relationship between power transition and war. But leaders decide to go to war, frequently for domestic purposes. An understanding of how the unique characteristics of the East Asian strategic theater combine with other international factors and with leadership politics suggests a less deterministic understanding of the implications of the rise of China for regional stability.
About the Speaker:
Robert S. Ross is Professor of Political Science at Boston College and Associate, John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University. He received his B.A. in History from Tufts University in 1976 and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 1984. He also received graduate training in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has taught at Columbia University and at the University of Washington. Since 2009 he has been Adjunct Professor, Institute for Defence Studies, Norwegian Defence University College.
Professor Ross has been a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of International Strategic Studies, Qinghua University, Visiting Scholar, School of International Relations, Peking University Beijing and Visiting Scholar, Institute for Strategy, Royal Danish Defence College. In 1994-1995 he was Fulbright Professor at the Chinese Foreign Affairs College.
Professor Ross’s research focuses on Chinese security policy, East Asian security, and U.S.-China relations. His recent publications include Chinese Security Policy: Structure, Power, and Politics, China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and the Future of International Politics, and New Directions in the Study of Chinese Foreign Policy. His other major works include Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History; Great Wall and Empty Fortress: China’s Search for Security, Negotiating Cooperation: U.S.-China Relations, 1969-1989, and The Indochina Tangle: China’s Vietnam Policy, 1975-1979. Professor Ross is the author of numerous articles in World Politics, The China Quarterly, International Security, Security Studies, Orbis, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and Asian Survey. His books and articles have been translated in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and various European countries.
Professor Ross has been the recipient of research fellowships from the University of Washington and Columbia University. He has received research and collaborative project grants from the Social Science Research Council, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Smith-Richardson Foundation, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), The Asia Foundation, and The United States Institute of Peace.
Professor Ross has testified before various Senate and House committees and the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, he advises U.S. government agencies, and he is amember of the Academic Advisory Group, U.S.-China Working Group, United States Congress. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee for U.S.-China Relations. Professor Ross is a member of the executive committee of the John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University, Senior Advisor of the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Senior Advisor to the Institute for American Studies, Shanghai. He is a founding member and former board member of the United States Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and former co-chair of the Committee’s task force on Confidence Strategic Building Measures. He is on the editorial board of Security Studies, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Cold War Studies, Issues and Studies, Asia Policy, Journal of Chinese Political Science, the Security Studies book series of Shanghai People’s Press, and the Grand Strategy book series of Peking University Press.
Organised by IDSS China Programme and RSIS Events Unit.